Another reason not to upgrade to Vista


Another reason not to upgrade to Vista

Will Smith, the Witch-King of Maximum PCThe terribly confusing and consumer-unfriendly state of upgrading to Windows Vista is proof that Microsoft has serious communication problems. The upgrade SKUs—the cheap boxes sold at CompUSA that contain upgrade discs for your existing Windows install—are a horrific mess that will result in returns, broken systems, and heartache for everyone involved.

The problem began when a committee of geniuses decided that choosing an OS wasn’t difficult enough and expanded the number of retail versions of Windows from two to four—with each version offered in full and upgrade versions. A full version will install on a new machine, but to install an upgrade version, you need to have an existing Windows license. Simple enough, right? Wrong.

You see, you can upgrade certain versions of Windows XP only to certain versions of Vista. To further complicate matters, you can’t upgrade the hardcore, power-user version of Windows XP (XP Pro) to the analogous version of Windows Vista (Home Premium) using the upgrade process. In order to upgrade the Pro version of XP to Vista, you need to purchase either the Business version, which omits Media Center functionality, or the ridiculously overpriced Ultimate Edition. (Who did Microsoft consult before making this decision? The same people who write Mac commercials?) Of course, you probably won’t figure out your purchasing mistake until after you’ve opened the box and the upgrade fails, rendering your purchase nonrefundable.

Now, if you want to move from XP Pro to Home Premium you can just back up your data, wipe your drive, and do a clean install, right? Wrong again. You see, the brain trust at Microsoft decided that upgrade versions should be incapable of performing clean installs—if you boot from the CD. In order to work, the upgrade process requires that you start from a working version of Windows. This fundamentally idiotic requirement will make disaster recovery a two-step process. Instead of simply checking to ensure that you own Windows XP during the install process, the Vista upgrade disc forces you to first install Windows (it can be XP or a demo version of Vista), then upgrade to the version of Vista you purchased. It’s a good thing Microsoft streamlined the Vista install process, isn’t it?

If you buy the wrong version of Vista, you won’t be able to upgrade XP with it. You’ll have problems doing a clean install, and you probably won’t be able to get a refund, either. It makes me wonder if anyone at Microsoft has ever actually installed and used Windows before. If they haven’t, why should I?



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Direct-x 10, enhanced dos (new network toy commands), enhanced system info reporting tools, improved media player.

Cons: Claims RAM can benefit from "boost feature" of using a USB flash drive. Leary of anybody making that claim when compared to hard disk access times (dedicated IDE channel with faster access times). 2 gig ram chips are still questionable purchases for those on a budget?

Many hardware devices (such as phone cards) are not supported (ditto for XP64bit?)? New and updated software will depend on adoption of Visual Studio 2008, which will cost the average software shop several thousand dollars in training, new hardware for testing, etc?


If you are new to computing, what you don't know won't hurt you (lol)? If you have invested a lot of time in software and hardware, then you probably want to stick to XP 32bit and play with Vista if you can afford it?

Sure, the "activation virus" is perhaps bothersome for some, but the automated phone activation system is not only sweet, but free?

And on the otherhand, Microsoft is going back to the Lotus marketing scheme by letting people test drive their operating systems for free (demos, etc)? I think Microsoft deserves a thank you (Thanks)!

I'm not fond of the high prices or the "versions", but that's not my call to make. I would like to see one version for a product and lower prices, I'm hoping market expansion will make it possible.

Do the high prices of the software make it a target of the EU for fines? Perhaps if the software was dirt cheap, they would not have sued Microsoft out of fear of putting it out of business?

Also Will never mentioned testing installing Vista on a clean hard disk without using your activation code, and then activating it with your key when the clean install is performed (does not work for upgrades)? I think it would have been too expensive to pay someone in India to lookup your XP installation ID, over the phone to perform an upgrade? Do we want to pay for that?

Would setting one lower price and no upgrade options woo back those who left for MAC OS, or Linux?

I think a lot of speculation helps some, and confuses others. I still see W2000, and apparently it works for those folks. In other words, software never dies, it just multiplies!

Drugs don't hurt, they kill (lives, dreams, opportunities, etc?)? Sex is designed to be more powerful than greed (use with extreme caution)!? Have a great day:)



Why do you think that MPC should even have a position? The reason that the rag is so good is that it's editors don't have a collective "position". One editor thinks something is good, another thinks that it is bad and we get to hear both of their opinions. Ultimately, we are better educated when it comes time to shell out our hard earned dollar when it comes time to buy new hardware or software.



I think its quite funny all the bad press Maximum PC gives Vista, then comes out with a you gotta have Directx 10 issue (Oct 2007) and put Vista Ultimate on Dream machine 2007 (Sept 2007) issue.

Whats Maximum PC's position? Thumbs up or thumbs down?



Dear Mr. Smith.

This is more a question than comment. I believe in one of the issues I read where you gentlemen had figured a way to do a clean install of Vista
Ultimate from the "upgrade version DVD". You see
my daughter encountered a "BestBuy" salesman who told her that the version she would need is the Upgrade Version. So that's what dear ole Dad has to play with while fixing all of the "Geek Squads"

Q. Is there a way to do this or am I stuck buying an OEM DSP full version of Ultimate in order to get my daughter back in business.

I sure would appreciate any feed back I can get.

Thanks in advance

B. Cottle



Dear Mr. Cottle,

You are absolutely right. Check out pages 38 and 39 of the July 2007 issue for the "Ask the Doctor" question on "VISTA ACTIVATION ODDITIES" and you'll learn how to do it. It's easy! You can view it online at (requires Adobe Reader or other PDF reader)
It's amazing how illogical a business built on binary logic can be.

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